Smart Song Choice

rockband 1 © 2014 Vinny Ribas 

There is a common mistake many artists make that prevent them from getting good gigs and/or from selling more music. It happens when they choose the songs for their live shows and for their CDs. Most artists treat them as 2 separate processes and never consider the integral relationships between the two. The songs on a CD may be awesome, but if they don’t translate to a captivating live show, then the artist doesn’t get the best gigs or get called back for gigs. On the flip side, an artist may put on an amazing show. However, if the songs he performs live aren’t ones that audiences want to take home with them, then he will never sell any CDs.

So many artists try their best to duplicate their CDs in their live shows. The problem is, as live music producer, Tom Jackson teaches, that no one goes to a concert to hear a CD. They go to have an experience!  So, I want to challenge you. When you are choosing and arranging your songs for your CD, try to think of them from a live show perspective. Will they add dramatically to your show, or slow it down? Do they create high points that will wow an audience? Are there enough dynamics to keep a crowd on its feet?

So let’s start with this. What you would love! You have the chance to write your own ticket. You’ve got a captured audience for 45 minutes. What emotions do you want them to go through? What is the reaction you want them to have after every song and at the end of the show? What are they going to post on their Facebook pages right after a song, and after the show? THAT is how you need to choose songs for your CDs, and then produce your live show. This includes customizing the transitions between songs, the arrangements and even the banter. Anything that is not put in that context right from the start will give the impression that you are just another singer/songwriter or bar band, not an artist!

What about playing the songs you’ve already recorded? You always have the leeway to do things with those songs to make them more appealing in a live setting. For instance, you might extend, and even milk an intro. You can also extend songs, build medleys, add vocal parts that aren’t in the original versions, change the key, modulate (maybe more than once, maybe a step and a 1/2, maybe modulate DOWN etc.) Become an entertainer rather than just s singer, and a million new doors will open for you!

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.